15 Simple and Affordable ways to make your home more energy efficient

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Written By Stephane

if you have modern home appliances, chances are you incur huge monthly energy bills due to your home’s energy usage. Luckily, you are not entirely helpless. You can use several tips to keep your consumption at a down low.

How can I make my home energy efficient?

Besides saving you a great deal of cash, saving energy will give you the satisfaction of creating a more conducive environment for your kids to live in. Before you can go where you’re headed, you need to know where you are; before you can increase your home energy efficiency, you have to understand how energy efficient it already is or is not.

The first step in your journey to make your home more energy efficient

First thing first, you need to start with an energy audit or energy assessment by energy auditors. Some energy providers, such as Eversource, have programs for customers to receive an energy audit to reveal why more energy is being used and steps that can be taken to prevent wasting energy and lower the heating and cooling costs for your particular home.

The following are some energy-efficient features found in energy-efficient homes add some to yours.

1. Use a Programmable Smart Thermostat

Programmable Thermostat

The great thing here is that a simple, smart thermostat will not cost you an arm and a leg. With one in place, you can choose when to turn it on to regulate how much energy your heating and cooling system uses. Experts believe that if you lower the temperature in your appliances by one degree, you can save about $85 a year. That’s money that can be channeled to other important ventures.

2. Take More Showers and Fewer Baths

take-a-shower

You can finally avoid using more energy heating your bathwater by hitting the shower more often. A simple bath may consume significant power, putting a huge dent inmassiver pockets. In this case, it is more advisable to use low-flow fixtures. A high-pressure one may take a toll on your house’s hot water systems due to its capacity, and maybe opt for a tankless water heater.

3. Make The Most Use of natural light

study-outside

Whenever you get the chance, ensure you complete most of your work during the day. This eliminates the need to use artificial light at night. Make Trish up on your studies or work reports when the sun still shines.

During the day, ensure you open your windows as well. This way, sunlight can get into the house. Close your windows early enough to spare yourself the trouble and energy use for heating your home at night.

4. set your refrigerator to the ideal temperature

fridge-temperate

A refrigerator can consume a lot of power if not used correctly. You can always limit its energy consumption by adopting a few usage guidelines. Firstly, avoid leaving the door open. Secondly, it is better to turn it on only when fully stocked. An empty fridge consumes more power than a fully stocked one. Set it at the right temperature.

5. Iron Several Clothes at Once

ironing-clothes

Over the years, this has risen to be a golden rule regarding saving power. When you iron your laundry fresh off the drier, your iron box consumes less power. Say no to the lazy habit of ironing clothes only when you need to wear them.

The more frequently you use your iron box, the bigger your energy expenditure. When doing laundry work, you might want to avoid tumble drying it. A good alternative would be to air dry, which uses sunlight and wind to leave clothes fresh and dry.

6. Invest In Solar Panels and renewable energy sources

home-solar-panel

One good source of renewable energy is sunlight. You should consider purchasing solar panels for your home. Most retail outlets sell them at reasonable costs. Once installed, you can use solar power for low-energy household appliances. Ultimately, you will see the difference in your electricity bill.

7. Turn Off and Unplug Appliances After Use

unplug-electronic-devices

This should be one of the basic essentials you instill in your kids. Ensure they get into the habit of unplugging devices such as TVs, phones, and laptops from their wall sockets before going to bed and TVs, phones, and laptops of their wall sockets before going to bed and when leaving the house.

A device plugged into a wall socket still uses some charge even when on standby mode, or you can simply use smart strips and plugs. In addition to this, limit the amount of time spent watching TV. Engage your kids in outdoor games over the weekend.

8. Purchase energy star certified Appliances

energy efficient appliances

If your light bulbs are not kind on your electricity bill, consider tossing them away for led bulbs. Ensure every bulb in your home is the energy-saving type. While an energy-saving bulb may be pricier than a standard one, the saving grace is that you stand to save more power just by using it.

Watch out for the “energy star” label on every electronic appliance you purchase to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Look at all the appliances in your home. This is especially important in large appliances like washing machines.

9. Exercise Wisdom in Your Heating Strategy

open-a-window

When turning up the heat in your house in the evening or during winter, ensure all windows and doors are closed. This way, the house can retain heat efficiently. Open windows always let in cold air, leaving your home just the way it was in the first place.

Once heated to your liking, turn off the heater.  A cost-effective way to heat a room is a pellet stove. They are warm and appealing. When cooling, it is better to open windows and let the room cool naturally. This is because air conditioners run on a lot of electricity.

If you invest in an air conditioner, it is important to understand the energy required. This is measured in BTUs. You should also have an understanding of the different types and size air conditioners available.  One can go for a fixed or portable air conditioner depending on your needs. 

10. Sensitize Your Kids

child-energy-saving

Without proper knowledge of the importance of saving energy, kids are likely to take things for granted at home. Ensure you draft a set of guidelines on how devices should be used at home. Sensitize your kids regularly on energy efficiency matters. This way, they may start taking your efforts seriously, which is a plus in parenting.

11. Insulate Your Home to reduce energy use

Attic-Radiant-Barrier

dependent upon your home’s building materials, you may need to add new insulation, or replace existing with better insulation. The more sealed your home is the more energy efficient your heating and cooling efforts. The cost saving on your energy bill could be as much as 20%. 

In winter we are trying to avoid hot air leaking from the house and cold air entering through gaps and cracks around doors and windows. In summer we need the hot air to stay outside and not penetrate through the roof and walls.

Also Read:   How Does Infrared Heating Work: Everything You Need to Know?

You want to work from the roof downwards. Insulating the ceiling can be done in one of two ways.   Installing reflective insulation, mostly to keep the home cool in summer, forms a radiant barrier and prevents heat from entering the living space.

Take a look at the best radiant barriers. The other option is fiberglass insulation matting. This prevents heat from escaping into the roof and retains the heat where it is needed.

Remember to insulate the roof above areas that are not insulated such as the garage. 

Check for cracks and gaps, especially around doors and windows, where air can escape. Some caulking and weather-stripping will seal the problem.

To insulate floors, a mineral wool insulation supported by netting is laid between the joists. Do not block the air bricks that provide ventilation under suspended floors, this prevents the boards from rotting.

Insulating the hot water cylinder and the hot water pipes is an easy and inexpensive operation. Your local DIY store can supply you with the correct cylinder jacket and foam tubing for the pipes, simply slip the on.

Radiator reflector panels fitted behind your radiators will prevent heat from escaping through the wall and reflect it into the room. 

12. Install Energy Efficient Windows

Windows play a significant part in the transfer of heat in and out of the home, and the wastage could amount to as much as  20% of your heating bill.

Double-pane, or double-glaze, windows should replace your standard single-pane windows. This has a double benefit, reducing heat loss in winter, and helping to keep the home cooler in hot summer conditions.

In very cold regions, significant savings can be affected by installing gas-filled windows with “low-e” coatings. If you are in an area that experiences extreme weather events, storm windows, either interior or exterior, would be recommended.

In summer months when the mercury starts to climb, your double-pane or Low-E coated window will help to reflect light and reduce the amount of heat gain in the home. A saving of $20 to $90 a year can be realized by replacing your single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR windows.

Another very easy and low-cost option to avoid wasting energy through the windows is to fit awnings, shutters, screens, or window shades.

13. Upgrade Your HVAC System to an energy efficient system

Indoor Gas Furnace

Furnaces built before 1992, with a standing pilot, are probably reaching the end of their life, and are wasting as much as 35% of the power used. A condensing furnace, with a 90% efficiency factor is the replacement recommended by ACEEE to improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Furnaces after 1991 probably have an AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating of 80%. Replacement here will not make as big a difference, but could still save 10-11% on your power bill. An energy auditor or your heating service technician will be able to measure your AFUE and give you specific advice. The saving on houses with boilers and hot water heat distribution such as radiators will be even greater.

Remember that your HVAC system has a three-way function, heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning. Energy Star gas furnaces have a different rating for the Northern United States where their furnaces are labeled with the standard Energy Star logo. They are found to be 16% more efficient than the baseline models. In the Southern United States, with a specific rating, the saving on fuel costs will be 12%.

Air-conditioning does not contribute nearly as much to the electrical bill as heat, but savings can still be made, even though a smaller 5000 BTU air conditioner will naturally use less energy than a larger 10 000 BTU air conditioner. Energy Star air-conditioners are 8% more efficient than standard models. 

Looking at the ventilation system throughout the house, the heat loss through the metal ducting could be as high as 20%. Placing insulation around these ducts and sealing any leaks will ensure you have an energy efficient home.

14. Plant Trees to Save Energy

Plant a Tree

On a hot sunny day, you will find far more relief under a big leafy tree than under an umbrella. The reason is that trees have a process of releasing water vapor known as “evapotranspiration”.

Planting trees will add beauty to your property and the shade will help to keep the home cool with a resultant saving on the energy bill. This applies especially in the Southern States where air-conditioning accounts for nearly 40% of energy costs.

You will also be doing your bit on the Green campaign, reducing the carbon footprint and global warming. Depending on the number of shade estimates of savings on energy bills range from 5 to 15%.

Where, and what type of trees to plant is most important. Large leafy shade trees should be planted on the south and west side of the house. Ensure that sidewalk, driveways, and patios are shaded as these hard surfaces increase the heat load.

Plant deciduous trees that provide good shade in summer, but drop their leaves in winter. This will allow for a bit more sunshine on the property during colder months.

Evergreens retain their leaves or needles all year and should be planted, in a strategic pattern, on the north side of the house. As a windbreak, they will serve to shield the house from the slow cold winds normally coming down from the north. In summer they will also provide a certain amount of shade.

15. Install energy efficient Ceiling Fans

Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans can help to trim your utility bill, but only if used in conjunction with your other energy-efficient methods.

A rotating ceiling fan does not make the room any cooler, but the “wind chill factor” does cool the skin. Leaving the fan blowing while you go shopping will not result in a cooler room on your return.

To get the cost-saving benefit from a ceiling fan it must be used in sync with your HVAC. Engaging the ceiling fan while the air-conditioning is running will allow you to raise the temperature control by as much as 4 degrees, thus using less energy.

In winter simply reverse the blade rotation, pushing warm air downwards, and drop the thermostat to a level of comfort.

Conclusion

The house is an integrated system operating inside the envelope of the building. Once the envelope has been sealed and insulated, there are so many options in the house and we need a strategic plan to coordinate our efforts. A good idea is to call on the services of an Energy Auditor to access and report on possible ways to further improve energy efficiency.

You also cannot be sure of the power supply at all times. A violent storm or blackout could leave you without power which is not great to deal with. You might also need portable power for outdoor adventures. Consider investing in a quality portable generator for these reasons. 

All in all, securing a better future for your family is in your hands. You may find that a slight change in routine is not bad at all. Try to do things differently and you will definitely benefit from the results and have an energy efficient home.

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